2015: Swedetown Trail Run

All of my familiarity with the Swedetown Tails, at least until the beginning of this Summer, had to do with cross country skiing as part of the The Great Bear Chase festivities. And by skiing, I mean my desperate attempts to stay upright and minimize the number of falls/wipeouts. With 25+ falls/wipeouts in 2014 (2:13:26 for 10k) and 7-8 more in 2015 (1:22:18 for 10k), it’s safe to say I have been on my behind and back more on these trails than I have standing up on my feet.

So, when dear friend and race director for the Mount Bohemia Trail Running Festival, Bridget Durocher (who works at Western Upper Peninsula Health Department), announced that she would be voluntarily putting together another trail running event — much closer to home — (a) with proceeds from it serving as a fundraiser for the Swedetown Trail System, (b) to promote an active lifestyle by getting people out to enjoy the trails and outdoors, (c) to make her hometown, Calumet, be known more than just as a Burger King destination amongst the not-so-active kids and adults alike in the area, and (d) with many a weekend training runs that she graciously arranged and led over many a months leading up to the event along many a trails that would eventually become the course, which, in turn, would increase my familiarity with the this system of trails … it didn’t require any persuasion to sign up and participate in this event.

Summary of training activities since the last race
# Date and time Activity details
Device, Distance, Time, Pace, Speed, Heart Rate, kCal, and Weather Notes (when applicable)
01 2015-08-01 9:33 am Copperman Triathlon (Bike)
22.26 mi, 1:25:27, 3:50 min/mile, 15.65 mph, 150 bpm, 1390
64 F, 13 mph W, felt like 64 F, 73% humidity; mostly sunny, breeze off the Lake and beautiful
02 2015-08-01 10:54 am Copperman Triathlon (Run)
4.86 mi, 0:42:00, 8:39 min/mile, 6.94 mph, 161 bpm
68 F, 10 mph W, felt like 68 F, 64% humidity; mostly sunny, warm and beautiful
03 2015-08-02 4:03 pm Houghton Short Ride
17.89 mi, 1:11:56, 4:01 min/mile, 14.94 mph, 118 bpm, 428
72 F, 14 mph WNW, felt like 72 F, 61% humidity; mostly sunny, breezy and beautiful
04 2015-08-03 8:03 pm Houghton Short Run
7.31 mi, 1:06:39, 9:07 min/mile, 6.58 mph, 157 bpm, 778
64 F, 11 mph W, felt like 64 F, 66% humidity; partly cloudy, gentle breeze and beautiful
05 2015-08-04 5:24 pm Houghton Quick Ride
6.37 mi, 0:27:10, 4:16 min/mile, 14.06 mph, 113 bpm, 179
63 F, 11 mph NW, felt like 63 F, 59% humidity; mostly sunny, breezy and beautiful
06 2015-08-04 6:12 pm CCTC Weekly Workout 2015 #09
3.13 mi, 0:32:06, 10:15 min/mile, 5.85 mph, 145 bpm, 327
63 F, 11 mph NW, felt like 643F, 59% humidity; mostly sunny, breezy and beautiful
07 2015-08-04 7:25 pm Pool Swim: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
0.17 mi, 0:20:00, 117:39 min/mile, 0.51 mph, 242
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
08 2015-08-05 6:01 pm KRG Weekly Run 2015 #29
4.04 mi, 0:45:39, 11:18 min/mile, 5.31 mph, 149 bpm, 505
70 F, 6 mph NW, felt like 70 F, 46% humidity; mostly sunny, cool but beautiful
09 2015-08-07 6:11 am Houghton Quick Run
3.60 mi, 0:32:20, 8:59 min/mile, 6.68 mph, 157 bpm, 393
57 F, 8 mph ENE, felt like 57 F, 94% humidity; mostly cloudy, cozy and beautiful
10 2015-08-07 6:16 pm Houghton Quick Run
3.21 mi, 0:24:51, 7:44 min/mile, 7.76 mph, 169 bpm, 335
63 F, 7 mph ESE, felt like 63 F, 94% humidity; mostly cloudy post-rain, cozy and beautiful
11 2015-08-08 4:05 pm Houghton Medium Run
18.68 mi, 3:01:15, 9:42 min/mile, 6.19 mph, 142 bpm, 2184
72 F, 10 mph SE, felt like 72 F, 69% humidity; mostly cloudy, then mostly sunny with breeze
12 2015-08-09 10:02 am Houghton Quick Run
5.74 mi, 0:58:59, 10:17 min/mile, 5.83 mph, 141 bpm, 693
64 F, 4 mph SW, felt like 64 F, 94% humidity; mostly cloudy with not much breeze
13 2015-08-09 1:34 pm Houghton Short Ride
18.14 mi, 1:21:51, 4:31 min/mile, 13.28 mph, 115 bpm, 512
72 F, 3 mph S, felt like 72 F, 78% humidity; mostly cloudy and breezy
14 2015-08-10 6:00 am Swim Lesson #01: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
0.11 mi, 0:50:00, 454:33 min/mile, 0.13 mph, 600
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
15 2015-08-10 6:29 pm Houghton Short Ride
18.25 mi, 1:02:35, 3:26 min/mile, 17.48 mph, 147 bpm, 670
72 F, 10 mph WNW, felt like 72 F, 61% humidity; mostly cloudy and windy
16 2015-08-11 5:59 am Houghton Quick Run
6.13 mi, 0:58:37, 9:34 min/mile, 6.27 mph, 99 bpm, 601
57 F, 7 mph NW, felt like 57 F, 94% humidity; mostly clear with not much breeze
17 2015-08-11 5:11 pm Houghton Quick Ride
7.36 mi, 0:31:31, 4:17 min/mile, 14.01 mph, 123 bpm, 241
70 F, 11 mph NNW, felt like 70 F, 56% humidity; sunny and windy
18 2015-08-11 6:06 pm CCTC Weekly Workout 2015 #10
3.31 mi, 0:34:37, 10:27 min/mile, 5.74 mph, 146 bpm, 355
70 F, 11 mph NNW, felt like 70 F, 56% humidity; sunny, warm with a breeze
19 2015-08-12 6:34 am Houghton Quick Run
3.16 mi, 0:27:56, 8:50 min/mile, 6.79 mph, 160 bpm, 350
57 F, 5 mph NW, felt like 57 F, 88% humidity; partially cloudy and beautiful
20 2015-08-12 7:10 am Strength Training
0:30:00, 180
21 2015-08-12 7:38 am Houghton Quick Run
1.39 mi, 0:10:59, 7:54 min/mile, 7.59 mph, 160 bpm, 137
57 F, 5 mph NW, felt like 57 F, 88% humidity; sunny, warm and beautiful
22 2015-08-12 6:02 pm KRG Weekly Run 2015 #30
3.63 mi, 0:39:43, 10:56 min/mile, 5.49 mph, 161 bpm, 483
82 F, 17 mph W, felt like 72 F, 45% humidity; mostly sunny, warm but beautiful
23 2015-08-15 6:56 am Houghton Long Run
22.36 mi, 3:36:11, 9:40 min/mile, 6.21 mph, 150 bpm, 2533
64 F, 3 mph SW, felt like 64 F, 88% humidity; mostly sunny, cool and warm later
24 2015-08-16 10:42 am Houghton Medium Ride
20.59 mi, 1:15:30, 3:40 min/mile, 16.36 mph, 137 bpm, 715
73 F, 7 mph SSW, felt like 73 F, 78% humidity; mostly cloudy, muggy and windy
25 2015-08-16 2:15 pm Swim Assignment #01/01: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
0.28 mi, 0:45:00, 160:43 min/mile, 0.37 mph, 541
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
26 2015-08-17 6:00 am Swim Lesson #02: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
0.28 mi, 1:00:00, 214:17 min/mile, 0.28 mph, 717
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
27 2015-08-18 5:50 pm CCTC Weekly Workout 2015 #11
4.07 mi, 0:39:03, 9:36 min/mile, 6.25 mph, 154 bpm, 435
64 F, 8 mph E, felt like 64 F, 73% humidity; cloudy, cool, breezy and barely noticeable drizzle at times
28 2015-08-18 7:05 pm Swim Assignment #01/02: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
0.57 mi, 0:55:00, 96:29 min/mile, 0.62 mph, 657
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
29 2015-08-19 6:33 am Houghton Quick Run
3.37 mi, 0:32:09, 9:32 min/mile, 6.29 mph, 155 bpm, 377
61 F, 7 mph E, felt like 61 F, 100% humidity; rainy but tolerable
30 2015-08-19 7:10 am Strength Training
0:40:00, 237
31 2015-08-19 7:57 am Houghton Quick Run
2.02 mi, 0:18:25, 9:07 min/mile, 6.58 mph, 153 bpm, 217
61 F, 7 mph E, felt like 61 F, 100% humidity; rainy but tolerable
32 2015-08-19 4:55 pm Swim Assignment #02/01: Michigan Tech Indoor Pool
0.43 mi, 0:45:00, 104:39 min/mile, 0.57 mph, 534
60 F, 0 mph, felt like 60 F, 60% humidity
33 2015-08-19 6:03 pm KRG Weekly Run 2015 #31
5.06 mi, 0:51:45, 10:14 min/mile, 5.86 mph, 146 bpm, 548
64 F, 9 mph W, felt like 64 F, 83% humidity; mostly cloudy, breezy but comfortable
34 2015-08-20 7:32 pm Houghton Short Run
6.57 mi, 0:56:46, 8:38 min/mile, 6.95 mph, 162 bpm, 723
57 F, 17 mph W, felt like 57 F, 72% humidity; mostly cloudy, breezy and some rain but comfortable

With this event being a fortnight before my maiden marathon and with the longest of long runs completed a week ago (#21 in the table above), I happened to be tapering — although I have never done so before, and still don’t know what it means or how to go through one (but it does sound fancy!). Timing of the event would make me treat it like a training run and not a race, and coupled with the kind and terrain, it would certainly offer a much needed platform to practice/instill a few lessons I have been going after for a while: (a) start slow and be ok with it, (b) let go of less than useful thoughts, (c) run the mile I am in, (d) pick up the pace as and when the terrain lends itself to do so, (e) maintain good posture throughout but especially so in the later parts, (f) time the beginning of the big push towards the end, (g) add a little kick to the big push to expend most, if not all, of the remaining energy by the time finish line comes around, and more.

The race day morning, unlike past couple events, came at a normal pace. Driving up to Calumet with Chris and Murat was uneventful and smooth. And there were no butterflies or pre-race jitters — treating the event more like a training run had much to do with it. It was a, like many first edition events, was small: seven participants in 5k, 16 in 10k and 12 in 25k, and had a pretty good representation from the Keweenaw Running Group. However, it did bring a few firsts: (a) crinkling of the bib — I need to do this more often to observe its aerodynamic impact (thank you, Shannon), (b) a raffle that required demonstration of a said exercise and naming a vegetable of said color, and (c) a pre-race huddle with fellow participants, volunteers, spectators and the race director.

14.91 mi (recorded by my GPS), 2:30:12, 9:41 min/mile, 6.20 mph, 169 bpm
Garmin Forerunner 620 and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress

15.91 mi (recorded by Chris Schwartz’ GPS), 2:30:15, 9:27 min/mile, 6.40 mph
Garmin Forerunner 310XT and WP GPX Maps plugin for WordPress

The event started on time, and no sooner had about one half a mile passed on the wide open Valley Trail, than it led us into a mostly canopied network of single tracks starting with Two Hoots Too. To say that that course was beautiful doesn’t do much any justice. Though prior training runs made some of the course familiar, the joy of following the trails as they snake through the valleys and meadows by creeks and waterfalls and some bridges with a spectacular array of flora accompanied by more than an occasional chirping of birds and insects … is something one has to experience first hand, and it sure was a privilege to do so on a glorious morning.

Personally, the event started with keeping pace with dear friends Andi and Chris until a course-forced separation took Chris and me deeper into the woods. Even though I took no less than useful thoughts with me into the run, they somehow crept into my head: a courtesy of mileage disparity between my and Chris’ Garmin watches — about 0.06 to 0.07 miles less per every mile, and as such, a lower pace and speed. I should have just gone with the feeling I had that my pace was certainly faster than what the watch indicated but it took nearly one half the total distance to realize that this indeed was a less than useful thought and that there was nothing I could do about it.

Chris led the pacing efforts until about mile 8 or so, and then let me try it for the next several miles. My pacing over the next 5 or so miles was slow and certainly cost him quite a bit of time. Having him to follow over the last few miles was a big bonus — as my posture and form were all over the place, I certainly would have walked on more than a handful of occasions if not for him, and served as a good big push towards the end. All said and done, we finished with a decent kick and only a dozen ticks past the intended 2:30:00 mark.

Personal goals for the event (in order of importance)
## Goal Result
01 Don’t roll the ankles Yes
02 No walking except through aid stations Yes
03 Finish under 2:30:00 (9:41 min/mile, 6.20 mph) No; 2:30:12 (9:41 min/mile, 6.20 mph)

Not the case of the grapes I didn’t get were sour anyway but I am happy to have the first two goals: first, a healthy pair of ankles, and second one thanks in great part to Chris’ pacing skills. I can live with being 12 seconds slower over 15 miles (would have finished at least 12 seconds on the desirable side of 2:30:00 had I not slowed down Chris over the last few miles), and it’ll probably teach me a thing or two about when to start the big push and when to add a kick to the said big push. Post-run festivities included a photo by the lovely hand-made race sign, chatting with fellow participants, spectators and volunteers, and an uneventful ride back to Houghton.

If resources (time, opportunity and the almighty dollar) permit, Swedetown Trails are definitely worth exploring in all of the two seasons Yoop gets to have irrespective of one’s outdoorsy interests and inclinations and level of expertise/experience: casual (photo) walk, hike, run, mountain bike, snowshoe or ski. The Great Bear Chase is a popular pre-Birkie winter time activity, and this new Swedetown Trail Run festival joins The Great Deer Chase mountain bike race to spice up the non-winter time activities.

Thanks be to

the rejections and opportunities life has brought my way, event folks (organizers, sponsors, volunteers, timers, law enforcement officials, photographers, fellow participants and spectators), and the family of good friends in and outside of my community for all the unexpected, undeserved and unrewarded acts of constant encouragement as well as offerings of constructive criticism to improve myself as an athlete and a person. I am eternally grateful to all those who let me train with them, who shared their invaluable tips with me, who helped keep my mind, body and soul in good health, who helped me stay the course during the training cycle, who continued to teach me the value of work-life balance, and who cheered me on from home or along the course.

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